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Sunday December 24, 2017

Box Office: A 'Star Wars' First; 'Last Jedi' Stumbles

Second weekend of "Last Jedi" stumbles at box office

Two years ago, the long-awaited seventh episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Force Awakens,” debuted during the weekend of Dec. 18-20, grossed $247 mil, and then, in its second weekend, Dec. 25-27, it fell off by only 39.8% to gross another $149.2. How good was that second weekend? At the time, better than all but 11 opening weekends in movie history.

This year, the eighth episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Last Jedi,” debuted the weekend of Dec. 15-17 and grossed $220 million—a drop-off, sure, but still the second-best opening ever. This weekend? Its second? It plummeted to $68 mil, a 68.9% drop, which is akin to the second-weekend drops of such crapfests as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (69%) and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (69.1%).

Not a very “Star Wars” thing to do. The question is why.

  1. Saturation? We had “Force Awakens” two years ago and “Rogue One” last year and now “Star Wars” is a regular holiday deal, rather than the thing you've been waiting decades to see.
  2. Backlash? The reviews were good (RT: 92%) but some of the aggragated audience reactions have not been (RT: 52%). It's still up in the air whether this is legit or some kind of sabotage. Some fanboys, apparently, aren't happy that the female characters are front-and-center in this one.
  3. Or is it just the dates?

Look at the dates for the second weekend of “Force Awakens”: Christmas day and the two days after. Prime movie-watching days. “Last Jedi”? The three days before Christmas day, when most of us are still running around and doing the dirty work of the holiday. That three-day shift could've made a huge difference. I'm not saying “Jedi” would've come near “Force”; I just don't think it would've fallen off in “BvS” numbers. We'll see how it does the rest of the week. I assume it'll pick up. Either way, it's at $365 million ($745 worldwide), and will become the biggest box-office hit of the year—as is true for every major “Star Wars” release save “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” back in 2002.

Five other movies opened this weekend in 2500+ theaters, and finished 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9. The Rock's latest, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” grossed $34, “Pitch Perfect 3” $20 (a third of “PP2”'s opening), and “The Greatest Showman” far back at $8.2. “Downsizing” lived up to its name, making only $4.6, but that was still better than “Father Figures” (“Mamma Mia” + gender switch - ABBA), which scrounged up only $3.2, an average of a paltry $1.1k per theater.

The best per-theater average belonged to the movie I wanted to see, but couldn't, because Fox in its infinite wisdom opened “The Post” in only nine theaters. Nine! Apparently it goes wide in January. Instead, P and I saw “Star Wars” on Thursday and “Jumanji” on Saturday. Mixed positives for both.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Treat yourself to “The Big Sick,” currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Posted at 04:31 PM on Dec 24, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday December 17, 2017

Box Office: Nothing But 'Star Wars'

Star Wars: The Last Jedi box office

Three days, $220 million. 

Trivia question: Which “Star Wars” movie is the only one that didn't wind up No. 1 at the U.S. domestic box office for the year?

It won't be “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” that's for sure. This weekend it grossed a cool $220 mil, the second-best opening ever—after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which grossed $248 two years ago. 2017's biggest box office hit thus far is “Beauty and the Beast,” which grossed $504 million last spring. For “Last Jedi” to not overtake it, particularly with its 93% RT rating, would be some kind of stumbling record for the franchise. “Force Awakens,” for example, wound up grossing nearly four times its weekend opening: $936 million. I don't expect that for “Last Jedi,” but assume it'll wind up north of $600 mil. Probably closer to $700. 

Is it ironic that the only studio to wide-release anything against “Star Wars” this weekend was Fox—the original “Star Wars” studio? The geniusese there decided to counterprogram against the most successful kids/family franchise ever with ... a kids/family movie, the animated “Ferdinand,” based on the story of the peaceloving bull. I guess they were going for that 2-to-3-year-old demographic It wound up a distant second with $13.5 mil.

Fox's animated division, Blue Sky, has never been a huge force. Their biggest hit was the “Ice Age” franchise, which has done better abroad than at home, but even there its popularity is melting like the polar ice caps. The last one, “Collision Course,” released last year, grossed just $64 mil here and $408 worldwide. But even it opened better than “Ferdinand” ($21 mil). 

By this time next year it might all be the same company anyway, since Disney is buying Fox, or Disney is merging with Fox, or ... choose your verb. Should they is another question. Disney has already scooped up Pixar and Marvel. On the plus side, X-Men + Avengers. On the downside, monolith.

The fourth weekend of Disney/Pixar's “Coco” finished in third place with another $10 mil for a domestic total of $150. If it doesn't get stronger over the holiday season, when everyone's out of school, it could wind up with one of the weakest domestic totals for any Pixar film. It might be the first Pixar film, in fact, to do better in China, where it's been No. 1 three weekends in a row now and is already at $128. 

BTW: “Wonder,” starring Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay, has been an under-the-radar wonder at the box office. In its fifth weekend, it finished in fourth place with $5 mil added to a domestic total of $109 million. 

Among the Oscar contenders in limited release: “The Disaster Artist” grossed $2.6 in 1,010 theaters for $12m total gross; “Lady Bird” earned $2.1 in 947 theaters for a $26m total; “The Shape of Water” made $1.7 in 158 theaters ($3.6 total) and “Three Billboards” $1.6 in 944 theaters ($21.3m total). “Call Me By Your Name” expanded to 30 theaters and took in $500k for a $2.1 total. It's going wider next weekend. Just in time for everyone being too busy to see it. 

As for that “Star Wars” trivia question? Here: 

  Movie Adjusted B.O.  B.O. Year Yearly BO Rank
1 Star Wars $1,274,614,700 $307,263,857 1977 1
2 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $965,467,800 $936,662,225 2015 1
3 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace $757,494,400 $431,088,295 1999 1
4 Return of the Jedi $723,181,600 $252,583,617 1983 1
5 The Empire Strikes Back $704,239,800 $209,398,025 1980 1
6 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story $539,743,700 $532,177,324 2016 1
7 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith $529,768,500 $380,270,577 2005 1
8 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones $464,469,500 $302,191,252 2002 3*
9 Star Wars: The Last Jedi $220,047,000 $220,047,000 2017 ?

* Behind “Spider-Man” and the second “Lord of the Rings” 

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Posted at 11:58 AM on Dec 17, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Friday December 15, 2017


Here are the box office totals—domestic, international and worldwide—for the five “Transformers” movies. Pay attention in particular to the last column: each movie's rank in terms of worldwide box office the year it was released. The series rose and rose and rose, and then...

2007 Transformers $709.70 $319.20 $390.50 5
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $836.30 $402.10 $434.20 4
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $1,123.80 $352.40 $771.40 2
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction $1,104.10 $245.40 $858.60 1
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight $605.40 $130.20 $475.30 13*

* And counting (down)

Splat. The last was least.

No. 13 worldwide for the year (or #14 after “Last Jedi” gets rolling) would generally get you high-fives all around—unless the previous iteration was No. 1 worldwide and grossed half a billion more. 

I read somewhere that Mark Wahlberg says he's leaving the franchise, but, given the above, would they want him back? I wouldn't be surprised if Dwayne Johnson gets the call, but how many more of these stupid franchises can he save? Or maybe they meld it with the “Fast and Furious” franchise? Fast, Furious and Transformed. Dom rides around in Optimus Prime. Why not? Both turned from face to heel in their most recent movies. It's all WWE now—in the movies and in the White House. It's movies and democracy transformed into idiocracies. 

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Posted at 10:50 PM on Dec 15, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 19, 2017

Box Office: The Not-So-Super Opening of 'Justice League'

Justice League box office


When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began back in 2008, its movies opened OK—generally in the $60 mil to $100 mil range. Then when the movie they were all building toward, “The Avengers,” came out in May 2012, the thing just exploded. It set a new record with a $206 million open and grossed a total of $623 mil in the U.S. Because each step along the way had been careful. They built quality upon quality. You wouldn't have had that opening without all the small steps preceding it. 

Now it's DC's turn and ... they already blew it. Their steps weren't careful. They didn't build customer loyalty. 

The preceding movies opened big—all more than $100 million, culminating in “Batman v. Superman”'s $166 million open last March. But that movie was panned, rightly, a sour taste remained, and people didn't forget, despite the positive feeling left by this year's “Wonder Woman.” As a result, “Justice League” didn't explode out of the gate. The opposite. The movie that everyone was waiting for opened at $96 mil this weekend, decidedly less than all of its predecessors. 

And even though “JL” is “Citizen Kane” compared with “Batman v. Superman,” its fairly low Rotten Tomatoes rating, 40%, doesn't bode well for its overall box office. Look at the performance of the other movies in the DC Extended Universe. 

DCEU Movie Thtrs Total Opening Open % RT%
Wonder Woman 4,165 $412,563,408 $103,251,471 0.25 92%
Man of Steel 4,207 $291,045,518 $116,619,362 0.40 55%
Suicide Squad 4,255 $325,100,054 $133,682,248 0.41 26%
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 4,256 $330,360,194 $166,007,347 0.50 27%

The better the movie, the longer the legs. Shittier, shorter the legs. “Wonder Woman” grossed four times its opening, “BvS” only two times. “BvS” began with a $63 million lead over “WW” and lost the race by $82 mil.

What might “Justice League” do? I don't think it'll fade as quickly as “BvS” simply because word-of-mouth won't be as bad. Plus “Wonder Woman” fans might come out for it. But at best it'll probably do 2.5 or three times its opening.

Which has got to be a huge disappointment for Warner Bros. But it's their fault: They're the ones who hired Zack Snyder way back when, despite, you know, all the evidence that he'd already left behind: “300,” “Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch.” 

Interestingly, some Zack Snyder fans are already blaming screenwriter Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) for writing a lighter, funnier screenplay and reshooting scenes earlier this year. I don't agree. To me, those are the best parts of the movie. Besides, the bigger issue is the shitty steps DC took to get here, and that's on Zack. Whedon was brought in for a reason. And that reason has a name: Martha.  

In other news, “Wonder,” a Julia Roberts film about a kid with Treacher Collins Syndrome, which looked like the weepie of the week, got suprisingly strong reviews and surprisingly good box office. It finished second with $27 mil. “Thor: Ragnarok” fell off 61% for third place. 

Among the Oscar hopefuls, “Lady Bird” grossed $2.5 million in only 238 theaters, while “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” grossed $1.1 million in only 53 theaters. They finished 8th and 9th, respectively. 

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Posted at 11:43 AM on Nov 19, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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Sunday November 12, 2017

Box Office: 'Thor' Doesn't Fall, 'Lady Bird' Cheeps

Patricia, Vinny and I went to see Greta Gerwig's “Lady Bird” last night at the SIFF Egyptian, and all of us loved it. Turns out we're lucky. This movie playing less than a mile from our homes is playing in only 37 theaters in the country. It's playing in 1/100 the theaters of “Bad Mom's Christmas” (3,615) or “Daddy's Home 2” (3,575). A reminder of just how screwed up distribution is.

“Thor: Ragnarok” (4,080 theaters, forsooth) won the weekend again, grossing $56 mil and falling off only 53%. Good word-of-mouth on this one. After only 10 days, it's already the highest-grossing “Thor” movie domestically ($211 vs. $180 for the first and $207 for the second), and worldwide ($650). It's particularly big in China, the UK, South Korea, Brazil, and Australia.  

Newcomers “Daddy's Home 2” ($30 mil) and “Murder on the Orient Express” ($28.2), both poorly reviewed, came in second and third.

“Lady Bird,” with its measly 37 theaters, did $33k per to finish in 10th place with $1.2 mil. No other movie in the top 20 appeared in fewer than 200 theaters.

Other Oscar contenders at the bottom of the box office mix:

  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: 4 theaters, $320k, 24th
  • “Wonderstruck”: 261 theaters, $245k, 26th
  • “The Square”: 50 theaters, $156k, 32nd

Go see good movies. 

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Posted at 10:26 AM on Nov 12, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office
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